Every year, President Barack Obama shares his list of favorites in popular culture over the past year. Over the past week, Obama shared his favorite songs, movies and books.

“Art always sustains and nourishes the soul,” Obama said on Instagram. “But for me, music and storytelling felt especially urgent during this pandemic year – a way to connect even when we were cooped up.”


“The Only Heartbreaker” by Mitski

“I Don’t Live Here Anymore” by The War on Drugs ft. Lucius

“Tala Tannam” by Mdou Moctar

“Magnolia Blues” by Adia Victoria

“Witchoo” by Durand Jones and the Indications and Aaron Fraser

“Formwela 10” by Esperanza Spalding

“Gold Chains” by Genesis Owusu

“Broken Horses” by Brandi Carlile

“Woman” by Little Simz ft. Cleo Sol

“Pepas” by Farruko

“Go Down Deh” by Spice ft. Sean Paul and Shaggy

“Freedom” by Jon Batiste

“It’s Way With Me” by Wye Oak

“Nobody” by Nas ft. Ms. Lauryn Hill

“Nightflyer” by Allison Russell

“Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” by Lil Nas X

“Patria Y Vida” by Yotuel, Gente de Zona, Descemer Bueno, Maykel Osorbo, el Funky

“Notice” by Tammy Lakkia

“Armash” by Teddy Afro

“Write a List of Things to Look Forward to” by Courtney Barnett

“Volvi” by Aventura and Bad Bunny

“Headshots (4R Da Locals)” by Isaiah Rashad

“Boomerang” by Yebba

“In My Blood” by MO3 and Morray

“Ya” by YENDRY

“Rumors” by Lizzo ft. Cardi B

“Walking at a Downtown Pace” by Parquet Courts


“Drive My Car”

“Summer of Soul” a feature documentary directed by Questlove about the legendary 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, which celebrated African-American music and culture, and promoted Black pride and unity.

“West Side Story”

“The Power of the Dog”


“Passing” directed by Rebecca Hall and based on the novel by Nella Larsen, this movie title refers to African-Americans who had skin color light enough to be perceived as White.

“The Card Counter”

“Judas and the Black Messiah” directed by Shaka King, follows William O’Neal who infiltrates the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party to gain intelligence on Chairman Fred Hampton.

“The Worst Person in the World”

“Old Henry”

“The Last Duel”

“The Tragedy of Macbeth” starring Denzel Washington as Macbeth and based on the play by William Shakespeare.

“C’mon C’mon”

“Quo Vadis, Aida?”


“Matrix” by Lauren Groff

“How the Word is Passed” by Clint Smith. In a deeply researched and transporting exploration of the legacy of slavery and its imprint on centuries of American history, “How the Word Is Passed” illustrates how some of our country’s most essential stories are hidden in plain view-whether in places we might drive by on our way to work, holidays such as Juneteenth, or entire neighborhoods—like downtown Manhattan—on which the brutal history of the trade in enslaved men, women and children has been deeply imprinted.

“The Final Revival of Opal and Nev” by Dawnie Walton. A novel about the meteoric rise of an iconic interracial rock duo in the 1970s, their sensational breakup, and the dark secrets unearthed when they try to reunite decades later for one last tour.

“The Lincoln Highway” by Amor Towles

“Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival and Hope in an American City” by Andrea Elliott

“Harlem Shuffle” by Colson Whitehead. A follow-up to Whitehead’s 2019 novel “The Nickel Boys,” which earned him his second Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It is a work of crime fiction and a family saga that takes place in Harlem between 1959 and 1964.

“Cloud Cuckoo Land” by Anthony Doerr

“These Precious Days” by Ann Patchett

“Crying in H Mart” by Michelle Zauner

“Aftershocks” by Nadia Owusu. A memoir that spans Owusu’s early childhood to her late twenties that spans many countries and cultures. The book grapples with the fault lines of identity, the meaning of home, Black womanhood, and the ripple effects, both personal and generational, of emotional trauma.

“Crossroads” by Jonathan Franzen

“The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois” by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers. A novel that explores the history of an African-American family in the American South, from the time before the American civil war and slavery, through the Civil Rights Movement, to the present.

“Beautiful Country” by Qian Julie Wang

“At Night All Blood is Black” by David Diop. A novel about the experience of a Senegalese soldier fighting for France during World War I.

“Land of Big Numbers” by Te Ping Chen

“Empire of Pain” by Patrick Radden Keefe

“Project Hail Mary” by Andy Weir

“When we Cease to Understand the World” by Benjamin Labatut

“Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future” by Elizabeth Kolbert

“Things we Lost to the Water” by Eric Nguyen

“Leave the World Behind” by Rumaan Alam. A magnetic novel about two families, strangers to each other, who are forced together on a long weekend gone terribly wrong.

“The Sweetness of Water” by Nathan Harris. A contemporary classic about the Reconstruction period of the southern states after the Civil War.

“Intimacies” by Katie Kitamura

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